Treatments & Therapies

CranioSacral Therapy – Treatment, Effects & Risks


Cranio-sacral therapy or skull-sacrum therapy is one of the alternative medical forms of therapy. It is a manual treatment in which the hand movements are mainly carried out in the area of ​​the neck , the skull , the sacrum , the spine , the feet or the pelvis .

What is craniosacral therapy?

Craniosacral therapy originated from craniosacral osteopathy , which was founded by the American physician William Garner Sutherland. Sutherland was of the opinion that the skull bones of adult humans are not rigid but flexible. He carried out many of his own experiments as well as tests on third parties and was able to feel the so-called craniosacral pulse – minimal rhythmic movements – on the human skeleton .

He also discovered that the movements of the sacrum were synchronous. Today’s development goes back to the osteopath John E. Upledger, who published a book entitled “Craniosacral Therapy” in 1983. Upledger observed the rhythmic movement of the brain – spinal cord skin (Dura Mater Spinalis) during a spinal operation, which allowed Sutherland’s teachings to be further developed. Upledger designed a concept consisting of ten individual steps, which he combined with alternative psychotherapy. He called this concept “Somato Emotional Release”.

The craniosacral system envelops the spinal cord and the brain and is made up of the cerebrospinal fluid, the three meninges, the cranial bones and the spinal column. This system represents the “internal milieu” for the growth and function of the brain and spinal cord. The connecting link between the peripheral parts of the body and the craniosacral system is the connective tissue . If there is increased tension in one of the systems, this is transmitted to the other systems via the connective tissue and affects their functions.

The tension reduces the flow of energy and the circulation of body fluids. With the help of craniosacral therapy, the tension in the craniosacral system can be balanced and self-regulation promoted. Cranio-sacral therapy is made up of the following basic elements:

  • energetic techniques
  • structural work on connective tissue
  • Language as a means of expression and communication
  • the organism and its possibilities of expression
  • the somatoemotional relaxation

In the last twenty years, craniosacral therapy has experienced an upswing, as many physiotherapists , masseurs and naturopaths have shown interest in this form of therapy

Function, effect & goals

Cranio-sacral therapy is a very gentle but effective method of freeing the body from blockages and pain . Thus, this form of treatment is a kind of link between alternative and conventional medicine . The cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates in the spine and in the skull, serves as an indicator. The therapist can feel the rhythmic self-movement and thereby release blockages.

Craniosacral therapy is performed on a treatment table, assuming that there is a disorder in the craniosacral system. This system includes the sacrum, spine, meninges , cranial bones, and cerebrospinal fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid flows around the spinal cord and the brain in the so-called liquor spaces. A wave travels from the skull to the sacrum 6 to 14 times per minute, which is referred to as the craniosacral pulse. Followers of this form of therapy are of the opinion that this flow of energy indicates the mobility or the order of the cranial skeleton.

If the cerebrospinal fluid flow changes, a wide variety of symptoms or diseases occur. Both acute and chronic complaints such as spinal and pelvic complaints, migraines , neck complaints, pain due to accidents, learning and concentration disorders in children, problems in the ENT area, psychological problems or birth trauma are treated. The therapist tries above all to promote the vegetative flexibility of the patient. This term describes the ability of the vegetative nervous system to react better to stress factors . The autonomic nervous system maintains extremely important functions, with the main components of theParasympathetic and the sympathetic are. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the circulation, while the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation.

If the sympathetic nervous system is overstimulated, stress symptoms such as increased pulse rate, high blood pressure or digestive problems occur. In order to neutralize this state of tension, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated as part of craniosacral therapy so that the patient is able to relax again. In addition, craniosacral therapy conveys an understanding of the human being as a whole. This can promote self-awareness and stimulate self-healing and self-regulation processes. In principle, craniosacral therapy is suitable for all age groups, with the aim of restoring the balance of the cerebrospinal fluid rhythm.

The therapist tries to feel the craniosacral rhythm of his patient by palpating the skull or the sacrum. The sources of interference are subsequently solved by massage or gentle pressure. The emotional, mental and physical tension decreases in the course of the treatment and the self-healing powers are stimulated. A session lasts about an hour, an entire therapy consists of two to 20 treatments, with an interval of seven days between two sessions.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Serious diseases could be missed in patients who rely solely on this form of therapy. Therefore, treatment should always be done in consultation with a doctor.

Cranio-sacral therapy is not suitable for people who suffer from increased intracranial pressure or cerebral hemorrhage . When treating newborns, there is a risk of injuring the brain because they still have widely spaced gaps between the skull bones. Overall, however, the therapy is very pleasant and involves hardly any risks.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.